L.A. Theatre Works Performance at Plymouth State University
The Silver Center for the Arts will host L.A. Theatre Works April 24 at 7 p.m. in a staged radio theatre presentation of The Great Tennessee Monkey Trial.
The play is a dramatization based on transcripts from the trial of John Scopes, a high school science teacher who challenged Tennessee state law by teaching evolution instead of creationism.
A law passed in March 1925 forbade teaching in any state-funded educational establishment in Tennessee, “any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals.” This is often interpreted as meaning that the law forbade the teaching of any aspect of the theory of evolution. John Scopes was arrested for teaching from a chapter in a textbook that showed ideas developed from those set out in Charles Darwin’s book, The Origin of Species. (Wikipedia)
The trial quickly became a national battleground and drew the attention of religious fundamentalists and the ACLU. Scopes set the stage for an ongoing debate over freedom of inquiry and the separation of church and state that remains unresolved today.
If you are a television or theatre buff, you’ll recognize a number of personages on stage. The stellar cast is led by Edward Asner (Mary Tyler Moore Show, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip) as William Jennings Bryan, John de Lancie (Star Trek, Stargate SG-1) as Clarence Darrow, and Jerry Hardin (The X- Files, Star Trek: The Next Generation) as Judge John Raulston.
Rounding out the cast will be Marnie Mosiman (Remington Steele, Dallas, Star Trek: The Next Generation) as the narrator, Matthew Patrick Davis (Sunday in the Park with George) as John Thomas Scopes, Kenneth Alan Williams (FX, Dharma and Greg) as Attorney Garfield Hays, Harry Groener (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) as Dudley Field Malone, Geoffrey Lower (NCIS, Switch) as Attorney General Stewart, with ensemble members Bill Brochtrup (NYPD Blue) and James Gleason (Loving You, The Night of the Hunter).
Cast members will remain after the play to take questions from the audience.
“Among the lessons here is that facts, in the right hands, can be as incendiary, thoughtful and theatrical as dramatic license,” Jeffrey Borak wrote for BerkshireEagle.com. Borak said The Great Tennessee Monkey Trial is “concerned with issues” and “… [the characters] remain largely members of an ensemble of people and ideas. … The Great Tennessee Monkey Trial permits the voices of history to speak with clarity, distinction and, as the closing narrative notes, chilling timeliness.”
Tickets are available at the Silver Center Box Office at $25-$30 for adults, $23-28 for seniors and $20-$25 for youth. Call the Box Office at (603) 535-ARTS or purchase tickets online at silver.plymouth.edu.
The Great Tennessee Monkey Trial at Plymouth State University is sponsored by The Common Man Inn and New Hampshire Public Radio, and funded in part by the Expeditions Program of the New England Foundation for the Arts, which receives major support from the National Endowment for the Arts and additional support from the state arts agencies of New England.